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Teacher Man: A Memoir    by Frank McCourt order for
Teacher Man
by Frank McCourt
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Frank McCourt's third installment in a trilogy of memoirs, Teacher Man, chronicles the author's thirty years as a teacher in the New York city high school system. After devouring his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, Angela's Ashes, I would read anything by Frank McCourt, and this latest book does not disappoint. To appreciate Teacher Man, it is not absolutely necessary to have read his previous two memoirs (Angela's Ashes and 'Tis), but doing so enables the reader to gain a deeper understanding of Frank McCourt; specifically, how his miserable childhood in Limerick, Ireland colored his every thought and action.

After bouncing around to various schools, including his first challenging stint as an English teacher at a vocational high school, he finally found his niche at New York City's prestigious Stuyvesant High School. McCourt was somewhat unconventional in his teaching methods and philosophy. For example, he had his students sing recipes to music, and spent many a class telling his students stories of his years growing up dirt poor in Ireland. I particularly loved the anecdotes, as well as a behind-the-scenes teacher's view of the classroom. On McCourt's first day of teaching, a fight broke out in his classroom over a sandwich, which he promptly confiscated ... and ate.

McCourt admits that he often felt like a fraud as a teacher. His confidence blossomed over the years, but he still had a measure of insecurity that kept him grounded as a teacher, and this kept him in tune with his students. With just the right touch of pathos and self-deprecating humor, this memoir made me want to be in high school all over again with McCourt as my English teacher ... well, maybe for just one day.

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